May 30

Idolatry:  The absence of gratitude

       When you hear the word “idolatry” what do you think of?  Natives from some isolated tribe bowing down to a wooden statue?  Or perhaps an ancient civilization that sacrifices their babies to a ‘god’ made of stone by throwing them into a blazing fire high on a mountain at midnight… with drums beating in the background?

       The kind of idolatry that I want to address is not about statues of wood or images of stone, but things that become substitutes for the real thing.  Like a graven image these idols represent the real thing and are in a very real sense a substitute for the real thing.

       An idol is a god made in our own image; a god that we can manipulate and control.  We as humans have ways and means by which we create things that we can use to give us a sense of control.  These “lesser deities” cause us to abort the journey toward reality and take a shorter path into fantasy.  An idol can be any idea or thing to which we become attached.

       Idolatry is a lack of gratitude.  In Romans chapter one it is written, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.”

       Their ungrateful hearts led them into idolatry.  That is why I say that idolatry is an absence of gratitude.  The following is a comparison of idolatry and gratitude:

Idolatry                                    Gratitude

a)      Resistance                               Acceptance

b)      Substitutes                             Genuine (real)

c)      Rebellion                                 Submission

d)     Control                                     Trust

e)      Double-minded                      Single-minded

       The heart that is ungrateful resists what is.  It is unable and unwilling to accept what is.  The ungrateful heart believes that it has a free will to create its own reality.  It sets out to recreate the wheel, if you like.  The original story isn’t enough or good enough.  And it wants to rewrite the scriptures.  It has dug in its heels.

       Idolatry is rooted in rebellion.  The rebellious heart will not submit to reality.  It cannot trust in a higher power that has all power.  The rebellious heart wants to rule.  It trusts only in its own ideas of reality.  But the ungrateful heart is forever double-minded.  It cannot stop wrestling with God’s will and its own will.  It thinks that its will is free.  And it is not.

Tomorrow’s topic:  I don’t want to stop